Breville Barista Pro review: One of our favorite all-in-one espresso machines

    There are no two ways about it. Any one of the greatest espresso machines is a significant investment. Even at the lowest level, we’re talking $400 or $500 for starters, and that doesn’t include a burr grinder (an additional $250+). In short, you want to get it right. When it comes to in-home, all-in-one espresso machines, we believe that Breville’s espresso machines or “Breville Barista Pro” are currently the safest and most user-friendly options for anyone looking to spend $1,000.

    Nonetheless, Breville produces a staggering amount of machines that all seem alike. We tried the most of them, and the differences are subtle: honestly, any of them are excellent choices. For this review, we’ll look at one of our long-time favorites: the Breville Barista Pro.

    Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro

    Breville Barista Pro

    A high-quality burr grinder is important for creating espresso, and one of our favorite features of Breville’s all-in-one espresso machines is the Smart Grinder Pro. This is not a flawless grinder (there are virtually always compromises when it comes to two-in-one products), but it is perfectly adequate and would cost you $200 on its own.

    With more options, you may make the necessary modifications to accommodate various roasts and levels of freshness. The new Barista Pro has 30 fine grind settings, which is more than the Express’s 18 and the Express Impress’ 25, not to mention the dozen or so internal grinder adjustments.

    (Note: While testing the machine using old, stale beans — they’re less expensive, and some of us will undoubtedly use them — I called Breville’s customer service and left my phone number without telling them who I was. A call was returned within an hour, and a person led me through making these little tweaks with a great deal of grace and compassion.)

    The portafilter shown above and below was only briefly included with the Barista Pro, and the original portafilter included with the Express, which we believe performs better, is now included with the Pro as well.

    Tamper and leveling tool

    A beautiful tamper if we ever saw one.

    We have to commend Breville’s research and design staff. Espresso nerds everywhere adore this tamper, not just because it’s real and hefty steel, but also because it’s magnetic and fits neatly into a slot beside the grinder, ensuring that you never lose it.

    Our main complaint is that the portafilter is 54mm rather than the commercially standard 58mm, so if you want to update baskets or the portafilter itself, you’ll have to go with Breville or one of the few after-market vendors who design equipment particularly for Breville machines. Even yet, this contributes to the machine’s compact size.

    Breville’s machines also have their unique Razor, a precision leveling tool. Many baristas will argue that this is more crucial than tamping. Here’s a video from Breville explaining how it works.


    Breville Barista Pro accessories
    The machine comes with essential accessories like four portafilter baskets (single-walled and dual-walled in both single and double shots) and the Razor leveling tool.

    The portafilter baskets are perfectly engineered to empty quickly and neatly, even if you neglect to do it for a few days – something that many other designs fail to achieve. They’re also made of high-quality metal that won’t tarnish or scratch easily if you have to dig out grounds (though you should avoid using metal with them if possible).

    As previously said, the Razor is a wonderful touch to help level the ground before tamping (though some experts prefer using a WDT tool instead). The milk-frothing pitcher isn’t our favorite design (the spout should be more prominent), but it functions nicely otherwise.

    The cleaning tablets work with the backwash disc to clean from the front end of the group head (where hot water is delivered to the portafilter), and while there is a single packet of descaling powder, you’ll want to buy a supply (like Cafiza’s) and do it every couple of months or so to keep your machine running smoothly.

    LCD interface and pulling shots

    Breville Barista Pro

    The Pro replaces the cylinder heating coil that Breville has used in other machines for years with a faster, quieter, and more powerful “ThermoJet” heating block. If speed is critical to you, Breville models with the ThermoJet heating element, such as this one, will fill your cup quickly.

    The LCD interface also displays how far along the infuser is, demonstrating that the water is hot and ready to use at the push of a button. But, more significantly, it timings your shot, giving you a good sense of whether or not you’ve dialed in and tamped your grinds correctly. If your double shot finishes pouring in less than 25 to 30 seconds (Breville suggests roughly 20 seconds for a single shot), you should either adjust your grinder to create finer grounds or tamp your shot better.

    Milk frother

    Breville Barista Pro / Milk fOAM

    Breville’s representative explained to us that the milk wand on the Pro is still manual, but it is a little more robust, making foaming easier and more enjoyable. However, the frother on the Express was in good working order.

    What are your alternatives?

    The Breville Barista Pro Express is one of the most handy all-in-one computers for most people because it is quick to set up, intuitive, and not overwhelmed with features. We also enjoy the Breville Barista Express Impress. The Impress, with its nanotechnology and semi-automatic tamper, makes home espresso even easier, tidier, and failsafe.

    The bottom line

    Breville Barista Pro
    All in all, we like the new LCD screen and the speed of the machine, but we really miss the pressure gauge.

    Inherently, this Breville Barista Pro machine outperforms the Barista Express. The thermal coil has been improved, the LCD panel now allows you to precisely time your shot and grind time, and you’ll get your morning shot much faster than with the Express.

    The key distinction between the Express, Pro, and Express Impress is that the Pro does not include a pressure gauge. Granted, the nanometer (pressure gauge) is merely a guideline, and you’ll be able to differentiate a good pour from a bad one in no time, but the meter simplifies things. If you’re like me and dial the phone at six a.m. before work, you might prefer the slightly slower but more reliable Express Impress to the Pro.

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